New Moston couple ‘failed’ baby daughter by leaving her unattended in bath before drowning tragedy, court told

A young New Moston couple who left their baby to drown in the bath wept in the dock of a courtroom as they were accused of failing in the ‘most basic of parental responsibilities’ today.

Dale Anderson, 25, and 22-year-old Emma Oliver were arrested after their nine-month-old daughter Daisy got into difficulties while he was searching for clean towels and nappies and she was chatting about schools with a neighbour.

Soon afterwards, Anderson found the infant lying face down in the water and lay her on a bed of teddy bears before he tried frantically to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Daisy was later taken to North Manchester Children’s Hospital where doctors tried desperately to revive her but she had already gone into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead two hours later.

Police began investigating Oliver and Anderson for child neglect after officers noticed they kept a ‘dirty and unhygenic house’ with dirty clothes and toys strewn across the floor, a jury was told.

Neighbours had been so worried about the state of the couple’s home after hearing what had happened that they began hoovering and tidying mess before police arrived and while the couple were still at the hospital, it was said.

Officers quickly halted the clean-up operation and noted the house had dirty nappies lying around, food on a high chair, dirty dishes covered in congealed food, damp clothing on the floor and dirty bed clothes on the cot.

When the young parents were asked whether an ‘accident’ had occurred, they claimed little Daisy had just ‘stopped breathing’ moments earlier – making no reference to the bath, it was alleged.

Prosecutor David Temkin told the jury at Manchester Crown Court: “There is no doubt that this case is extremely sad. Nobody in this room could fail to be moved by hearing about the death of a baby. You must try your very best to deal with this case as coolly and calmly as you can.

“The prosecution’s case is that each of these defendants failed in their duties as parents towards this young girl.

“The first and most devastating way was that they each left the child unattended in the bath. Not for long, but long enough for tragedy to strike.

“The second way is that these defendants failed in their parental duties because of the state of their home.

“The prosecution’s case is that they failed to ensure that the home was safe enough, clean enough and hygienic enough to be suitable for bringing up a child.  He said it ‘perfectly clear’ each of the defendants ‘loved and cherished’ Daisy, and felt ‘deep sadness at their loss’.

But he added: “It’s not a case about intentional cruelty – it’s a case about serious failings in the most basic of parental responsibility.”

The tragedy occurred on September 24 2012 when Daisy was being washed in a smaller ‘baby bath’ placed in a normal bath by Oliver, then aged 20. She then left to ‘pop round to her neighbour’s for a chat’ and entrusted Anderson, 23 at the time, to look after Daisy.

Calling for Anderson to take over, it is believed the couple crossed each other on the stairs leaving their daughter unattended for the first time that morning.

When Anderson began bathing his little daughter, he realised there were no clean towels or nappies in the bathroom so left and began searching through the downstairs of the terraced house in New Moston, Manchester, for what he needed.

Although it is not known exactly how long Daisy was left alone for, Manchester Crown Court heard that when Anderson went back to the bathroom she was lying face down in the water.

Oliver returned to find Anderson trying to revive the little girl and she ran back to her next-door neighbour’s to call an ambulance.

A paramedic arrived within two minutes of the phone call being made by the neighbour at 10.39am and reported Daisy was not breathing.

Mr Temkin added: “What is clear is that mum wasn’t in the bathroom for very long. She decided to leave the house. She went to a neighbour’s house leaving dad to look after the child.

“The prosecution’s case is that he knew she had left the house. Mr Anderson went into the bathroom and carried on bathing her but after a time realised there was no towels or nappies in the room. He went out of the bathroom and left the child unattended. He went downstairs to get what was needed.

“It is not precisely clear how long he was out for but when he got back he saw Daisy was lying down facing the water. He took her out and tried to revive her with mouth to mouth. As he was doing that Miss Oliver returned.

“She knocked on the front door to be let in. Mr Anderson left the child again to let her in. He told her what had happened.”

Next door neighbour Melissa Sutton, who was with Oliver on the fateful morning and called the emergency services, described to the jury how distraught and panicked Oliver and Anderson were when Daisy was found.

Miss Sutton said: “She was at the house for about 20 minutes because I was just doing general cleaning. It was general chitchat – we were all going to put the kids names down at a school local to us. She didn’t mention where Daisy was and I didn’t have any concerns.

“She had gone back to get her coat to go to the school and I was washing the pots when I saw her run past the kitchen window. She came into my house and said ‘Daisy’s not breathing.’ She said ‘phone an ambulance.’  She was panicking and my first instinct was to follow her out.

“I saw Dale trying to resuscitate the baby and I rang for an ambulance. Emma moved Daisy into the kitchen and I told her to put her down flat. She put her down in the living room. Dale punched the wall and another neighbour tried to help.”

An operator gave CPR instructions as both parents tried to revive her and neighbours gathered.

“Everybody was just in panic mode – we all had the same interest at heart, to help Daisy. The paramedic arrived and said I had done amazing and that’s when I filled up and got as lump in my throat because it all hit home and the reality sunk in.

“Emma was a good mum – she looked after her daughter. Daisy was always dressed nicely and Emma put her first. She would go without for Daisy.”

Paramedic Philip Ogden told the jury: “When I arrived at the house, I noticed the hallway was very messy, clothes and toys were scattered and I had to step over things.

“I walked into the living room and there was quite a few people there. I saw the baby girl was undressed and appeared to be dry. Her father appeared to be doing CPR.

“I asked what had happened and was told she had just stopped breathing a few minutes before the call was made. I asked if there had been any untoward incident at all. They said there hadn’t.

“I asked a couple of times if there had been any illnesses or accidents that would explain the situation. But I was told she had just stopped breathing moments earlier.”

At the hospital, Oliver eventually told nursing staff what had happened but police were already at the address where neighbours and friends were seen frantically trying to hoover and tidy.

Anderson and Oliver deny two counts of child neglect. The trial continues.

Story via Cavendish Press

Image courtesy of Mikey with thanks

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